At The Halfway Point

I write this as we’re about midway through Spring Training. Only a couple more weeks and the games begin to count. Here are some more of my observations from the games and players I’ve seen so far.

I have a hunch that the Reds offense is going to really come to life this year. I like what I have seen and heard from Jay Bruce. I look for big numbers from him as he has decided to play his game and not worry about what pundits have to say. I also look for a healthy Brandon Phillips to exceed expectations. Again, if these guys are healthy the team will score runs in bunches. And of course, it’s very possible Joey Votto will make it through the entire year in one piece. The problem I see is pitching. The rotation still seems thin to me and I don’t quite know how they cover injury or poor performance.
But I like the offense a great deal.

Micah Johnson has looked like a starting second baseman for the White Sox. He’s a non-roster invitee but he’s played very well so far. He can bunt well and smoke some line drives. If he’s on the club, he’ll steal some bases.

I admit I was surprised the Rockies released Jhoulys Chacin.

Bad blood continues between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Both teams better be careful because at the rate their going, somebody will get hurt and lose playing time. It’s really getting ugly with players being hit by pitches.

Tuffy Gosewisch has won the starting catching job for the Dbacks. And Nick Ahmed is in the mix at shortstop. If that happens, Chris Owings moves to second base and Aaron Hill goes to the bench or to third base. What about Yasmany Tomas? He went three for three with a homer on Monday. He was playing third base. I think the Dbacks jury is still out on him. I know mine is.

Speedsters Terrance Gore and Reymond Fuentes have both been sent out by the Royals. That means the primary designated runners remain to be Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. I was a bit surprised Fuentes isn’t on the club.

Jason Kipnis’ back problems may be a concern as the year progresses. Is this an isolated incident? Will the issue linger? He has some at-bats to make up in the closing weeks of spring. My bell is ringing about Kipnis. I’m not on the band wagon yet.

Zach McAllister is throwing more off-speed stuff to go along with his very good fastball. If he continues to gain confidence in those pitches he will enhance his chances of making the rotation. Teams have been sitting on the fastball and now they have more to think about. it’s a long season-I think McAllister will start for the Tribe at some point.
It may even happen right out of the gate. I really like T. J. House as well. But I have some concerns about the inconsistency and over-thinking of Trevor Bauer and the inconsistency of Danny Salazar. Upside? Yes. But when? Maybe this year. But I’m not running to Vegas just yet.

More and more teams are throwing high fastballs to Mike Trout. But I’ve seen him make adjustments to that pitch. He isn’t as quick to swing and when he does, he doesn’t try to do to much with that high heat. He’s every bit as great as his press clippings. I’m more convinced every time I see him.

The issue with the barking shoulder of Dodgers Hyun-jin Ryu is serious. If he misses any amount of time, the health of Brandon McCarthy and and Brett Anderson become even more crucial. And both have had their health hiccups in the past. Where do the Dodgers turn for pitching depth? And who closes for them with Kenley Jansen hurt? It was going to be…wait for it….Brandon League. But he’s hurt too. The Dodgers coasting to a West Division Championship is not a slam dunk.

Already thin in the outfield, the Giants Angel Pagan is suffering back issues once again. He’s a real catalyst for the club and any time he misses will put more stress on an already difficult situation. Brandon Belt may play some in left field and Buster Posey may play more at first base. Pagan is crucial given the losses of Sandoval and the injury to Pence.

I still think Ryan Rua will win the left field job in Texas. He has a solid bat, can play average defense and adds a nice right-handed bat to the lineup. I have no inside information, but I think Rua is the guy. Or at least one of the guys. I think he makes the final cut and is on the roster.

Nick Martinez and Nick Tepesch will fight it out for the last spot in the Rangers rotation.
The winner? I have no idea.

Rule 5 addition Mark Canha is an interesting option for the Athletics. He can play first, the outfield and even some third base. And he has some pop in his bat, something the team really needs.

I have some concerns about some of the news from Florida. Specifically, the health of Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. A bad hamstring has been keeping him out of games. That scares me. And the club isn’t deep in back end of the bullpen guys.

I like the Twins a lot more than some people. Why? Because of their offense. No, I don’t like the overall pitching depth and quality, but I sure like the offense with guys like Vargas, Plouffe, Dozier, Mauer and Hunter. And during the year we’ll probably see Byron Buxton and maybe Miguel Sano. A guy I really, really like is Eddie Rosario. I would not bet against him seeing big league action this year.

Next week I will do two blogs on my division predictions. I got pretty lucky last year with team won-loss records and standings predictions. I hope I can do it again. I’ll do two blogs-one AL and one NL.

This coming week I’ll be featuring three Rule 5 players on my scouting profiles for MLBPipeline.com. They include Mark Canha, Taylor Featherston and David Rollins. I don’t know when they’ll post, but I’ll go into some depth on each of the three.

As always, thanks for reading my work and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done.

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